Sunday, April 30, 2006

So I’ve been reading A.R. Ammons’ TAPE FOR THE TURN OF THE YEAR. I’ve finished reading it, actually. I don’t exactly know where Ammons stands in the pantheon of contempoetry—I don’t think he’s read much now, especially by young poets. Perhaps the new selected from Library of America will change that a bit (that’s what hooked me). But, everybody should be reading him. His concerns seem to me to be at the core of where poetry, and America, are at right now.

TAPE FOR THE TURN OF THE YEAR is a 205 page poem, published as its own volume, which Ammons wrote in the mid 60’s. He was waiting to hear back from Cornell about whether or not they would give him the job he famously held for the rest of his life, and to deal with that anxiety, he decided he would fill an entire roll of adding machine tape with a skinny poem.

So, the poem itself, the object, the pile of paper, is a metaphor for all the kinds of preoccupations people come up with the pass the time between birth and death without freaking out about what’s really going on. At the same time, the poem tries as hard as it can to look at what’s really going on, so it’s like two river currents flowing against each other (which creates TENSION)—the poem tries simultaneously to avoid the world and to engage it, which is a pretty accurate way of conveying experience (mine, at least).

Written in a plainspoken, matter-of-fact voice, the poem winds its way through descriptions of the natural world—sections often begin with weather reports (“raining: / at the borderline & promise/ of snow:/ gale warnings up/ along the coast:/ no small craft to/ enter heavy water:”)—metaphysical and philosophical considerations (“I feel ideas—as forms of/ beauty: I describe/ the form as/ you describe a pear’s/ shape:/ not idea as ideal—/ideas are human products,/ temporal & full of/ process:”), and, most important to its dramatization of anxiety, narrates its own composition:

the reason I write so much
that I can’t do anything
poem must be now
close to 40 feet long: I
can’t get it out
to write letters or
postcards or anything:

The single word lines above should be indented a bit.

This poem dramatizes my own anxiety better than anything I’ve read; I can’t imagine it’s just my anxiety it dramatizes so well. The book’s still in print. Go get it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Check out TYPO 8, which is just out, and features a poem by me, and poems by many other wonderful poets.

I've been reading A.R. Ammons TAPE FOR THE TURN OF THE YEAR. I've got a lot to say about it, and look forward to finding the time to do so this weekend.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Reading the new selected Zukofsky. Never read Zukofsky before. Was always intimidated. Now I’m trying to think of what Zukofsky was trying to get poems to do. Was he trying to see the world without him in it, to see the world via language, to see the words without the inflections of people saying them, and therefore to see something not through the lens of a human consciousness? Or is that oversimplifying? Certainly, he was trying to admit more of the world than, say, Eliot, who was really projecting his own consciousness onto myriad things and ideas. Zukofsky doesn’t want himself muddying the ideas. He wants to see the ideas as themselves, even if all the ideas he sees are his.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Allan Peterson
University of Massachusetts Press, 2006

This book was recommended to me as a challenging but extraordinarily rewarding read. I’m in the middle of reading it now and I can’t help but agree. This is a great book from out of nowhere. It won the 2005 Juniper Prize; Peterson published one previous book, Anonymous, Or with a small, small press, and this is his second collection. And it’s frickin’ amazing.

Peterson’s dense sentences, wild associations, and straight-ahead metaphysical thinking recall the work of William Bronk, and put him in the path that extends from Stevens and Frost. Closely packed words force each line into many directions, and, as Peterson progresses from one idea or image to the next in order to extrapolate whatever thought the poem begins with, the poems accrue layers and resonances. To get a sense of what this book does, I’m going to quote a poem in full:


To say it right you would have to gather the printers of Meriden
Connecticut and of Basil
paper makers from Tin Rocker in grinders cuttlefish and soy
metalflake lapis suspended in oil
typecutters calligraphers applicators rubricators floralized reps
from tattoo parlors who are taking pictures
you would use only small letters since you mean soft and intimate
use plain water but natural not tap
that with spat and barnacles nauplia zoea zooplankters hydroids
more varied than intruding vessels from science fiction
a phrase like pigmy mammoths
two ospreys whose doubles float below them for miles
pidgins dialects jargons creoles
rebus acrostic and seven down the nine letter word for outnumber
Nothing is simple but what we choose to ignore
like the ciliated tufts in the oviducts of a mouse waving like grass
seasonal variations in salinity
If nature is all we have the god-noun that encompasses everything
and I am of it since it cannot be otherwise
then everything I imagine is and all scrutinized day night or afternoon
on the knobby couch and bumper flash
from Nancy’s classic Thunderbird This is the message:
Of love letters in English there are 26 and feelings outnumber flies

Reading this I have a strange image of a thought on a train that’s just left the station—someone who is trying to explain the thought is running alongside the train trying to keep up with the thought onboard, to describe it while it is speeding past. Lines and images briefly come into focus and then speed away. It’s thrilling to simply try and keep up with the associative thinking. But what grabs me most is how straightforward, how unironic the voice is—it’s dire, though the speaker knows he can’t quite say what he means to say, so he alights on a few easily understood phrases (“Nothing is simple but what we choose to ignore”) in the midst of far-reaching, often very obscure references and abstractions. In the midst of all that, the voice is absolutely matter-of-fact. Though this work doesn’t feel at all alien in the company of other contemporary experimental poetry, it’s also subtly unlike anything else I’ve recently read. Jeeze, I want to write like this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Just want to say quickly that the book I’m most excited about right now is DO NOT AWAKEN THEM WITH HAMMERS by Lidija Dimkovska, just out from Ugly Duckling Presse. She’s a young poet from Macedonia. The translation conveys all the ironies of the poems—and there are lots of them. She’s hip, funny, pissed off. I’ll quote some lines in the next couple of days. But if you can get your hands on a copy of this book, do. I saw her read last night at KGB. It was wonderful. She speaks English with a very, very think Russian-type accent that gives the poems even more force. Before the reading, Steve Martin—the real Steve Martin—walked into the bar, looking for the theatre next door. It was awesome.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I was just talking to a poet friend, who is not a blogger, about the blogosphere. He brought up a point that I think is a very good one, and he phrased it very well. He said that each person’s experience of the blogosphere is inherently subjective. That made me think of the past week’s discussion about how the scene should/shouldn’t be represented. Each reader is drawn to the blogs that feature writing styles and subject matter that matches his/her taste. From those blogs, they are led to others that match that blogger’s interests, and it goes on like that forever. Characterizing the blogosphere accurately is impossible, as it’s entirely different for each person.

And that notion points the way toward thinking about what really makes the online poetry scene so different from the print-publishing one: there isn’t the same kind of branding on the Web that there is in a bookstore. (There is, of course, a different kind of branding: each blogger has his/her own brand, which they must establish, update, and maintain. The same is true for each web mag.) Rather than associating a poet’s work with Knopf or Verse Press or Faux Press or The Canary or The New Yorker, each poet has a stronger hand in determining how they will be seen, in terms of what they write. The web mags of course establish their own brands, but it’s still new enough that those brands don’t have such a hold on how a reader thinks of the work they find on each particular site. I think the same rules apply, however, as the web-branding takes a deeper hold, but at least now the poets get to make the rules themselves, steer the course of their own reputations, in something like real time. It’s not entirely different from reinventing the printing press.


This new issue of Cutbank is really a stunner. So many good poems. I want to look for a sec at the first stanza of the first poem in the issue, which is by Britta Ameel, a poet whose work I knew nothing about until yesterday. Reading this poem got me thinking about the problem of finding subjects for poems. Here’s the first bit:

The moment after begins. Birds on your sill
offer themselves. A flock of thumbs. Flight. No question
of ascending. Speed. After. What did I do?
An act I remember but can’t place. Something small.
The turning of the faucet. Afraid to move the papers that stack like layers of earth.
Not—glow, not—light, something silver and sticky.
After water. Smoke. After gauzy curtains blowing in the middle of a hot day.

What got me going here is the invocation that takes place in the first sentence. Rather than immediately setting up a scene, the first sentence locates us in a general idea of time. We know we are located at the beginning of a moment that takes place just after another moment that does not take place in the poem. Ameel then goes on to shade in a few aspects of a scene—birds, a house, a kitchen, a desk, the speaker’s memory—but the subject here is really the simultaneity of things, the way perception places things in time that don’t happen in time: “The sugar still sweetens in a blue bowl on the counter.”

The poem goes on to roam at lightening speed (“We are fast as highway nerves”) across an array of disassociated landscapes, landing on a campsite, a pasture with a cow. The poem asks questions (“Is there anything to know”) but doesn’t come to a conclusion more definite than its lovely last line: “We are water and it’s a wonder we do what we do.”

Through examples, images, and questions, the poem tries not only to think about “what we do”, but to enact it. The mind at work is by no means a new subject for poetry, but the way this poem gets into that subject—by wondering what a moment is—is thrilling to me. The fact that a poem can start with such an invisible abstraction as a moment and find its way to the concreteness of “We are water” helps free me from my habit of writing poems that have to be about someTHING.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Cutbank 65 is out and available—at least it would seem to be given that my contributor’s copy came in today’s mail. My contribution is a review of Andra Baker’s LIKE WIND LOVE A WINDOW, which, really to my surprise—I didn’t think I’d get into it at first—was one of the most astonishing and original poetry books of 2005. Cutbank 65 is really a very muscular issue, with poems by Cal Bedient, Adam Clay, Carl Phillips, Lisa Jarnot, Matt Rohrer, Joyelle McSweeney, Dan Beachy-Quick, and others, as well as an interview with D.A. Powell (along with a new poem), who is, in my estimation, the major poet of his generation. It’s really an impressive undertaking, and Brandon Shimoda and Devon Wooton, who recently took over as editors, should be commended for putting it together.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Well, I’m glad to see things are simmering down. I appreciate everyone’s comments, for, against, about, not about, and around my article. The discussion raised a bunch of important issues.

What I’m thinking most about is the question of why all of us are out here blogging, and what the kind of relationship/community created by people in the blogosphere means for poetry. I think, too, the notion of defining a blog was raised. Is there a divide between the kinds of discursive blogs Silliman and Corey write and more diaristic ones? And, of course, where can that line be drawn. The most discursive blogger posts news about their personal lives, and on every poet’s blog that is often about daily goings-on, there are frequent posts about books, poetics, issues and ideas. Do bloggers begin blogging for a sense of community? self-promotion? an outlet for their excitement, enthusiasm, anger? I would have a hard time believing that any blogger isn’t after all of these things, and others. And, of course, it’s a way we can create a poetry community in our own image, instead of in the mold of the long tradition and the political publishing world. But, again, most of us are part of that world as well, and don’t want to divorce ourselves from it—I certainly don’t; I love participating in it. But then there’s something different going on here, something I still feel like I’m apprenticing myself to.

Something different is happening to poetry, to how and by whom it’s being read, and to our expectations as writers of what we can put in front of someone else’s face. The community is also ongoing, constant, not dependant on magazines to publish any kind of discourse. I wonder where it will be in five years.


Anyway, I look forward to returning to doing what I like doing best, Yammering on about what I’m reading. I’m too tired tonight, but I’m reading something wonderful that I’ll go on about tomorrow.


and I’ve done some light housekeeping to the right. I think things are a lot tidier over there now.

and to all a good night.
At this point, I'm trying to take in each day's developments and gather my thoughts. I agreethat the way women are represented in my article points up many vital problems in the politics of poetry, the blogosphere, and the world in general. I could have written it differently to avoid this criticism, but I didn’t, both because of oversight and for considered reasons. Of course I had to leave people out, though I in no way wanted my exclusions to be representative of the blogosphere as a whole--of course it's inevitable that they will be, and I'm learning my lesson about that now.

I was trying to offer the best representation of the blogging scene I could given my limitations—some of which are personal (my knowledge, perspective, biases, preferences) and some of which are imposed from outside (word count, etc.)--and I had criteria for choosing who and what to write about--one of which was certainly the prominence of a particular blog or web (as I understood it), and another of which was figuring out how to tell the story so it could be understood by the audience I felt I was writing for. This wasn't the conversation I thought the piece would spark, but it's important that it did—the issue and feelings that provoked this response were out there, and if my article brought them to the fore, I’m glad the blogosphere provides a place for those thoughts to be heard. I certainly expected to be criticized.

My frustration now is that the discussion, at least as represented by some of the comments on my last post, has begun to devolve into defensive sparring, which overshadows the other issues that the piece might raise. That said, I'm also very glad and inspired by the fact that--as Danielle points out in the comments to the last post--my blog, or any blog, can harbor the discussion that's going on right now. What better forum, really, is there for hammering this out?

The repeated response that really irks me, though, is from the surprising number of bloggers and editors who basically wrote in to say “well, why didn’t you mention me and my blog, web journal, whatever…I have more visits than Corey…” I’m really surprised that people did that—it’s something I wouldn’t have the audacity to do, if for no other reason than the fact that it would weaken my argument.

Of course, the blogoshere isn't new news to the people who've been participating in it for years, but it's now-established importance is still news to the publishing world--whatever segment of it cares about poetry, and perhaps the rest of it, too. I guess I'm surprised that more people haven't written about the implication of the world beyond the blogoshere perhaps getting that news through their heads. I’m glad to see Tony and others expanding the discussion of the gendering of my article beyond just my article. But what does it even mean that the multi-voiced discussion we're having now is possible? What does it mean that poems are traveling as fast as email--are they more or less disposable/permanent than when they were just on paper, or just in the air? The roots of this whole blogging business are only getting deeper, and it's going to continue changing things. I wish more of the discussion would focus on how.

I picked the blogs and web-mags I picked because they are consistent, of high quality, were not vanity projects, and would clearly show an uninitiated audience the basics of what the blogosphere is about. I wanted to pick web sites, which, if read on any given day, would feature interesting, relevant and engaging content. It happens that three of the web-journals I listed have women editors, but I picked them because they are good publications.

I think the other issue at stake here is about what it means for the larger poetry audience to become aware of the blogging and internet scene. Is it good for poetry, bad for poetry? How is the internet affecting the way poetry happens? I think Tony is also developing this side of the artgument in a very relevant way. The search for answers to those questions is what drew me to the blogosphere in the first place. Those questions seem to have been completely overshadowed, which I think is unfortunate.


Also, I'm adding a few of the people who've chimed in to my blogroll, which I haven't done until now only out of laziness.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hi everyone. Thanks for your kind words about my PW article. The discussion it’s spurred on the blogosphere is an inspiring example of the very phenomenon the article describes.

I’ve gotten one consistent criticism, from Shanna Compton, Reb Livingston, and others,—that no woman bloggers were profiled—which I’d like to address. It’s certainly true that writing this article for PW afforded me the opportunity to portray the blogosphere as a space for dialogue on all sorts of issues between and about women and men in poetry and literary culture in general, to show that men and women are equal contributors to the blog scene. Basically I picked Silliman because you can’t tell this story without him, and Corey because, to my knowledge at the time, his blog got the most visits next to Silliman’s. That may not be true—I did not check everyone’s site meters—but it seems likely. I did try to get an interview a woman Web-journal editor, but she did not respond to my queries, and I was on a deadline. Both Silliman and Corey are very outspoken commentators on the blogosphere as well as on poetry, so they were ideal subjects for interviews. But the reasons why those two blogs are the most prominent may speak to an unequal distribution of influence in the blogosphere.

It shouldn’t be overlooked, however, that in the same issue of PW I did a profile of the poet Kay Ryan, who is, among other things, a woman, and a very extraordinary person in general. In planning our poetry coverage, which, in PW, is basically confined to one annual issue, the other editors and I were conscious of not portraying contemporary poetry as an art form still dominated by male voices.

Regarding the blogging piece, this was, of course, a very cursory survey of a very complex and subtle scene (I didn’t, for instance, say much about flarf, though I would have liked to, because I didn’t have the room); it was targeted at an audience that potentially has little investment in or knowledge of poetry, let alone the online poetry scene. Writing it, I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to dig deeply. The story is far from being all told, and I think it’s important that someone else take up the thread and do another piece in a print magazine, one which is more of an insider’s view, which is something my piece for PW couldn’t be.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Well, Blogosphere, here it is, my PW article on the Internet Poetry scene. It's the cover story of this week's issue, and you can read it online at

Also not that there's a profile of Kay Ryan, which I also wrote. She's wonderful.

Do with me as you will.
B and I are just back from a whirlwind trip to Dallas, where we visited my family. It was a very busy, and very good trip. But, as anyone who has held the formidable COLLECTED POEMS OF TED BERRIGAN knows, it is, unlike my tiny toothpaste, not travel-size. So, wanting to continue my little exploration of second wave NY school poems, dork that I am, I bought THE SELECTED POEMS OF ALICE NOTLEY (talisman house, 1993), which easily slips into a carry-on bag.

Understand that this is not the kind of work that I usually gravitate to--tend to favor neat stanzas and a sort of mythic tone a la Merwin or something--but I am really enjoying pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Along with the poems "January," this is my favorite so far in the Notley book (it's actually on the page after "January" ends:


The late Gracie Allen was a very lucid comedienne,
Especially in the way that lucid is shining and bright.
What her husband George Burns called her illogical logic
Mad a halo around our syntax and ourselves as we laugh

George Burns most often was her artful inconspicuous straight man.
He could move people about stage, construct skits and scenes, write
And gather jokes. They were married as long as ordinary magic
Would allow, thirty-eight years, until Gracie Allen's death.

In her fifties Gracie Allen developed a heart condition.
She would call George Burns when her heart felt funny and fluttered
He' give her a pill and they'd hold each other till the palpatations
Stopped, just a few minutes, many times and pills. As magic fills
Then fulfilled must leave a space, one day Gracie Allen's heart fluttered
And hurt and stopped. George Burns said unbelievably to the doctor,
"But I still have some of the pills."

That last line shouldsignalingent singnaling the continuation of the previous line, which blogger most likely won't preserve.

Anyway, what I love about this poem is the combination of detachmnaiveteldlike naievity, and emotional vulnerability. The language of the first stanza verges on the scientific, but its last line, about the halo, has a vulnerable, childlike quality. Then there's the strange bit about magic in the second stanza, which totally surprises me. The final stanza is so sweet and sad, and yet also amazed and flat in its delivery. It's really a very wonderful poem.

Well, tomorrow's my big day--my first two feature articles for Publishers Weekly come out. One is a profile of Kay Ryan. The other, and this is the one I'm nervous about, is a sort of layman's introduction to the online poetry scene. This is our one yearly issue about poetry. I interviewed Ron Silliman, Josh Corey, Zach Schomberg, folks at the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Daily, and a heap of others. I wonder what you'll all think. Will you rake me over the coals? You should be able to access the articles through our website:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Once again I’m a late-comer to something everyone else knew all about. Where have you been?, you’ll say. I dunno…a person writes some thing off and then comes to discover later that he was missing something he did not want to miss. Anyway, I just got a copy of the recently published Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan and began reading it on my train ride home from work just now. I’m reading Sonnets. It seems to me, so far, that these are very wonderful poems—full of quotidian surprises, sudden intimacies, exaltations and damnations, but all of it conducted with a certain quietness I haven’t seen before, a subtlety that is highly attractive. I’m gleaning this impression from perhaps 10 pages, so I’ll have more to say later, and I’ll be better informed when I say it. The trouble with me is, I had really written off the New York School in a lot of ways, or at least all of it but Ashbery. I had a brief fascination with Koch, but eventually it got to silly for me. Well, and I like Schuyler—or at least I did when I borrowed his collected from my local library when I was briefly living at home after college, meaning I haven’t read him in years—which I guess means that in fact it’s O’Hara that I could never really get with. He’s too much in the world for my tastes. I like ‘em more in their heads. So, anyway, I think I had grouped Berrigan very much with O’Hara and assumed I wouldn’t enjoy his work. But there is a kind of push in it, a way that Berrigan is prodding the world around him with language that is really quite satisfying. Then, of course, there are the later poems to look at as well, which, at least after a cursory glance, seem different from the sonnets. What a prolific writer he was! 700 pages in only 20 years. I have the giddy excitement of coming across a monumental book.

Also, the new Joshua Clover is out and about. I’m wondering what people are thinking about it. I haven’t read it all yet, though I’ve had the galley for a while, which, I think, betrays my ambivalence about it. But, if there is such a thing, I think it’s a passionate ambivalence. I’ve been looking forward to this book for two years or so, since I first read Madonna Ano Domini in grad school. I didn’t dive into it, I think, because I’m afraid not to like it, or, worse perhaps, not to get it. It certainly seems much more prohibitive to me than the first book, though those poems didn’t do all that much come-hithering. Some of these new poems seem a bit slight, and others seem very impenetrable. Again, this opinion is based on a cursory reading, and I will go at it a bit harder soon. But, does anyone out there have a thought or two to share about the book?


It’s a couple of hours later. Still on Ted Berrigan. I’ve read a bit more into THE SONNETS, though I’m still not done—I’m savoring it a bit. I’d like to look at one of the ones I like so far and see if I can articulate why I like it.

XVIIfor Carol Clifford

Each tree stands alone in stillness
After many years still nothing
The wind’s wish is the tree’s demand
The tree stands still
The wind walks up and down
Scanning the long selves of the shore
Her aimlessness is the pulse of the tree
It beats in tiny blots
Its patternless pattern of excitement
Letters birds beggars books
There is no such thing as a breakdown
The tree the ground the wind these are
Dear, be the tree your sleep awaits
Sensual, solid, still, swaying alone in the wind

I gather that many of these were written using collaging or other randomizing methods. With that possibility in the background, this poem begs to be read as both an unfolding meditation—a kind of pastoral—and a jerking collage of lines or strings of lines that are only vaguely related. A line by line reading may be the best way to get at how these lines work on and against each other. Of course we have the tree and its surroundings, which set a scene, and an emotional landscape in which the poem takes place. The first two lines convey a Zen-like calm, patience. Then the confounding third line—why is "The wind’s wish the tree’s demand"? You would think it would be the other way around, the wind demanding the tree to bend one way or another. Perhaps the tree is "solid," so, while the wind can only wish, suggesting the direction of the tree, the tree exerts real force on the environment around it. And perhaps that’s reading the line too closely; suffice it to say that the third line is an interruption, a pause, a moment where the reader’s mind trips—it complicates things significantly. The in the forth line, a return to the initial stillness, though the diction is clipped this time, almost dismissive of the increasing complexity of the lines that came before, almost suggestive of the nonsequiteur of the forth-to-last line. The pacing wind complicates things further, adding a more overtly human element to the scene, an increasingly pervasive projection of the speaker’s consciousness onto a poem that has waffled between letting nature be itself and forcing it to be a human idea. Then the string of unconnected words: "Letters birds beggars books". The birds and beggars jive pretty well with a panoramic view of where this place might be; I imagine a boardwalk, beggars skulking in the corners, seagulls diving for trash. Of course, that’s just my association—it’s not suggested by the poem, but those big spaces leave room for associative thinking. Then the letters and books bring me into a cluttered apartment. It seems to me that the consciousness of the speaker melds here with the pastoral scene: the speaker can’t parse his cluttered world from the world outside. Then the wonderful nonsequiter: "There is no such thing as a breakdown". This is the point at which the whole poem clicks into place for me. One reading might be, as the end of the next line suggests, that "these are," meaning that nothing in the world breaks down or stops—it just keeps going and it is we who fail to keep up. This line makes the whole poem sad. It’s a little like James Wright’s "I have wasted my life"—as if the insistence of the tree, the birds, the wind, the whole scene in motion forces the speaker to understand that nothing, no one will forgive him (or the "Dear" whom the last couplet addresses) , let him (or her) off easy, for failing to keep up. Hence the lovely last lines: "be the tree your sleep awaits / Sensual, solid, still, swaying alone in the wind". The words "your sleep awaits" confound me a little, but they are beautiful, and the suggestion seems clear—if you wanna be happy, be flexible like a tree.

It’s really a very rich poem, and different in its richness from what I associate with New York School writing, which I often think of as more random or quotidian.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Of course, the Bishop books is the talk of poetry town. It was bound to be controversial, so it’s only fulfilling its destiny by causing a stir. Anyone who hasn’t already should read, first, the book itself, then Vendler’s review from the New Republic, then today’s NY Times article, then Josh Corey’s thoughts on the matter, then whatever comes next.

I think Vendler’s article is pathetic. As if she was afraid many of her shots would miss, she aims at every possible target in the book, including its lack of an index, which has little to do with the matter at hand. I do appreciate her readings of several of the poems as poems, rathar than examples of poems Bishop “repudiated.” Vendler is a reader with an unusually broad view of poetry, historically speaking. Her analises of a few of the poems as poems is valuable. But, the fact is, it no longer matters what Bishop would have wished any more than it matters that King Tut would have preferred his tomb remain unraided. That comparrison perhaps seems unfair and exadurated, but the point is that Bishop is no longer here to express her preferences. What she left were art objects—things, which can only be judged on the basis of the impressions, the intrusions, they make in the world. There is no point in protecting Bishop now, especially from herself. It’s as if Vendler wants to argue against the very existeance of Bishop’s drafts. Alice Quinn has accomplished the very important task of bring those objects—which exist by virtue of Bishop’s having made them—into view. To encourage her or anyone do otherwise would have been to lie to ourselves. Bishop’s unparalled poems can take care of themselves.

I appreciate that Josh points out a couple of outsize remarks in Vendler and Orr’s reviews of the book. Bishop is not “the best artist of the second half of the 20th century” or whatever Orr said. She is a very great artist—one of the closest to my heart—but she is not the best. And Josh’s point about the reference to “the insular poetry world” in today’s Times—perhaps turning this into a catfight between two powerful women in poetry is the only way they can think of to make this issue palatable to their readership.

This is a scattered post full of incompete thoughts, but this is what I can come up with tonight. Edgar Allen Poe and The Juke Box is an important addition to the Bishop cannon, and to the body of poetry that we have. I’m glad to have it.